Artemisia Gentileschi: A Hero Among Women

picThis piece was developed during the second Bartimaeus Institute Online (BIO) Study Cohort 2016-2017.  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the BIO Study Cohort go here.

By Lola West

To appreciate the significance of the female artist Artemisia Gentileschi, 1593-1653, we must first understand the men who helped mold her. Such is true of many of the female artists during the pervasive, unyielding patriarchy, as seen in the Italian Renaissance. Growing up in the 17th century, Artemisia Gentileschi spent much of her early life being defined as the daughter of celebrated artist, Orazio Gentileschi. The senior Gentileschi was a pupil and follower of Caravaggio, a renowned male artist who was known for capturing emotion through his biblical renderings.  Caravaggio was to the 17th century art scene as Leonardo Dicaprio was to every adolescent girl in the 1990’s- a big deal. His revolutionary style encouraged the movement of artistic realism based in biblical narrative. In an era when written word was directed exclusively to the highly educated, the realist movement also appealed to the illiterate, breathing life into viewer’s emotions and stimulating a devout religiosity amongst Italians. Continue reading

Only a Love Ethic

WinkAn excerpt from the late theologian Walter Wink’s “Homosexuality and the Bible,” written more than two decades ago:

The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no Biblical sex ethic. Instead, it exhibits a variety of sexual mores, some of which changed over the thousand year span of biblical history. Mores are unreflective customs accepted by a given community. Many of the practices that the Bible prohibits, we allow, and many that it allows, we prohibit. The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period.
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All of Us is Still Tired

ImaniHighlights from Imani Perry’s response in a forum entitled “The Logic of Misogyny.” Perry is currently the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her comments were originally posted on the Boston Review website on July 11, 2016:

…dismantling patriarchy seems a virtually impossible task. Its current form is rooted in the Age of Exploration and the Enlightenment and supported the conquests, geopolitics, and philosophies of those eras. It was formative to the Western legal concepts of both personhood and property, as well as to the rise of the sovereign European state, the Atlantic slave trade, the practice of settler-colonialism, the mass murder of black and brown peoples, and the exploitation of those denied legal and political recognition. The patriarch—the conceptual ideal man and citizen—was and is defined and protected by his power over intimate associations, and that power remains supported by politics, law, capital, militarism, and police power… Continue reading

Our Lady comes



This piece was developed during the second Bartimaeus Institute Online (BIO) Study Cohort 2016-2017.  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the BIO Study Cohort go here.

By Katherine Parent

In the cave of a great sanctuary, a granite womb full of light and bones, I sat among songs of the annunciation next to a new friend. Listening next to me, she didn’t know that I was having a holy moment of uncertainty. Each apex was an almond reminder of sacred arches, gateways of birth and body: seen, sacred, secret and silenced. I was considering, fiercely and privately, a surgery that would open my thick sealed hymen, a birth defect known as “Virgin Mary.” Continue reading

Black Women & Equity at UPenn

JyarlandBy Jyarland Daniels (right), founder of Harriet Speaks, doing diversity differently by providing a Black voice and perspective in diversity, equity, & inclusion

Today my newsfeed greeted me with a story of a PhD student assistant at The University of Pennsylvania with the following headline:

This instructor calls on black women first and white men last. Critics want her fired.

In a world where we are bombarded by information and everyone wants to be in the know, going beyond the headline can seem passé. Yet, being “Headline Hoppers” is one way we give our implicit consent for the media to dominate the narrative on race in a way that does not reflect reality; these narratives are why, in a recent study, 55% of whites reported they believe they are discriminated against, but a much smaller percentage say they have actually experienced this discrimination. Continue reading

The Holy Spirit Said #Metoo

Bavarian Christian Fresco

7th c. Bavarian Christian fresco of the Trinity, with the Holy Mother in the Middle.

By Chelsea Forbrook, a Spiritual Director, and Liberationist-Buddhist-Universalist-Mystic-12 step-Queer-Christian. Playing with questions, answers, and surrender.  Re-posted with gratitude and permission from Spiritual Subversive: a blog for 21st century seekers.

With the deluge of social media posts using #Metoo, women are hoping that men will finally understand that sexual assault and harassment happen to us on the daily. Perhaps they will wake up to the fear that women have internalized and had to accept as “normal.” Thankfully, I have not (thus far) experienced the horror of rape or physical assault. I have, however, experienced harassment as regular as sneezes during allergy season. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. Here’s a (partial!) list of my experiences:

~ After hitting puberty, I wore baggy pants and large shirts for 15 years in an attempt to keep roaming eyes and inappropriate comments away from me. It didn’t work. So I chopped off all my hair, and lots of people assumed I was a lesbian. It still didn’t work.

~ I bike everywhere, as opposed to taking public transit, because it has reduced the amount of street harassment I experience by about 90%. My bike makes me feel safe and free. However, there are still plenty of guys who shout at me while I’m riding past, “Hey girl, ride that bike a little slower for me!” or “Damn, girl! You look good on that bike!” or the classic dog whistle followed by “Hey girl, come back here and go on a ride with me!” Sigh…

~ I used to ride public transit for three years, and I was sexually harassed every day, often multiple times a day while waiting at the bus stop. Everyone wanted my phone number, and everyone had comments about my ass or my weight. One stranger walked up and said, “Ooo, I really want to suck on those sexy toes,” and I was even solicited twice for prostitution (while fully covered and wearing baggy clothes, breaking out in profuse acne, and sporting dirty dreadlocks. In case you were wondering, it’s not about what she wears.).  Everyday before leaving the house I took deep breaths and prepared a response to this verbal abuse. Hyper vigilance became the norm.

~ I once had a van full of men try to kidnap me on a Sunday morning at 10am. They used a woman to try to lure me inside by having her ask me for directions. Luckily, my intuition told me to run right before the guy tried to reach out and grab me, and I was close enough to my church to find Sanctuary.

~ I got a dog for many reasons, one of them being so that I could walk alone around my neighborhood and feel a little safer. Even though I trust Chancho would try to protect me, I always bring my wallet with me when I walk, because I know I could end up dead and pantless in a country ditch somewhere and I want my ID there to make the identification process quicker. This thought feels quite casual, as it is routine. “Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Wallet-in-case-I get-raped-and-die? Check. All right Chancho, let’s go!”

~ I have been dumped because I didn’t wear tight enough pants. I have been dumped because I was “too old to be a virgin” at age 23. I have had a partner not believe that my “no” actually meant “no.” I have found out 5 times that the guy I thought I was dating actually had another real girlfriend, and I was just for fun. I have been cheated on in a committed partnership twice. Every day it’s a struggle to convince myself that I am good enough, and that I deserve respect. Not because I’m some man’s sister or daughter, but because I am a human being worthy of respect. It’s hard to feel worthy and whole some days when my experience keeps telling me otherwise.

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Marie Durand (1711-1776)

pic.jpgThis piece was developed during the second Bartimaeus Institute Online (BIO) Study Cohort 2016-2017.  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the BIO Study Cohort go here.

By Chelsea Page

“Seek the reign of God and God’s justice, and all things will be given to us below.”

“Resister.” Marie Durand carved this word in stone in the wall of the Tower of Constance, the fortress where she was imprisoned in southern France in the 1730s. She had grown up in a Huguenot (French Protestant) household where “Praise” was carved above the fireplace and the plea for divine “Mercy” above the door, through which French soldiers could return at any time. To these words she added the prayer “Resist.” Continue reading